When Congress returns from its recess next week attention to the FY 2006 appropriations bills will increase. While the first bills are many weeks away, the new chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, Jerry Lewis (R-CA), has told his subcommittee chairmen to put their draft bills on a fast track. This and forthcoming FYIs will focus on what has been said about the Bush Administration's FY 2006 budget request in a series of statements on S&T funding and several House Science Committee hearings. This FYI reviews a Senate statement in support of the DOE Office of Science and the NSF. See FYI #43 for a statement by Rep. Vernon Ehlers (R-MI) to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Science, State, Justice, and Commerce and Related Agencies.
Both the House and Senate have passed their own versions of a budget resolution setting broad parameters for taxing and spending in the next fiscal year. Members will try next to write a final, compromise resolution to guide the FY 2006 appropriations process in each chamber. Accompanying these non-binding budget resolutions is report language which provides a vehicle for Members to express their chamber's views regarding spending.
Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) has been a strong supporter of federal S&T programs. In the forthcoming Senate Budget Committee report accompanying the Senate Budget Resolution, S. Con. Res. 18, Alexander was responsible for the following language regarding the DOE Office of Science and the National Science Foundation:
"The budget resolution recognizes the importance of the research and education initiatives of the Department of Energy's Office of Science and the National Science Foundation to the nation's economic future and our position as the world's leader in technology innovation.
"Investment in the physical sciences, life sciences, engineering, mathematics, and computing is critical to our national security, energy security, as well as development of the next generation of America's scientists and engineers.
"Other countries are investing heavily in research that produces talented, highly-educated workers and cutting edge companies. China graduates almost four times as many engineers as the U.S. India is pouring money into technology parks to lure back native talent and produce world class companies. South Korea has leveraged rapid global technology diffusion to leapfrog into the global economy. It graduates nearly the same number of engineers as the U.S. though it has 1/6th the population and 1/20th the GDP. From 1980 until 2001 the U.S. share of high-tech exports fell from 31 percent to 18 percent. The European Union is poised to graduate 4 times as many PhD's as the U.S. over the next 5 years. Clearly, the statistics point to an emerging crisis in U.S. competitiveness like never before and sustained investment in science and technology at the Department of Energy's Office of Science and the National Science Foundation must be at the core of America's strategy to compete.
"Just as Congress has recognized the importance of increased support and funding to health sciences research, it is important to invest in the basic sciences research conducted by the DOE Office of Science's national labs and the NSF."